Thursday, November 6, 2014

My favorite movies for 2013 and for 2014 (so far)

Last year I did a number of posts on Facebook about some of my favorite movies by year.  A few people asked if I could compile a list of those films, and a couple more wanted me to discuss the movies a bit more.  I said, "Sure," but then promptly forgot.  Sometimes my brain is like a colander.

Understand that there are plenty of movies I don't bother seeing.  There are also a lot I'd like to see, but don't have time.  Still, I'll give the lists over the next few days or weeks.  I'm working on Sunset Specters, the fifth Jonathan Shade novel, so I'll do these on days where I've met my word count and still feel like typing.

We'll start with a so-far list for 2014, but I'll do a better post about 2014 after I've caught up on more films.  So far this year, here are my favorites, though the order might change when I compile the final list in a few months, and a few of these won't make the final list:

2014 (so far)

1. Guardians of the Galaxy.  Pure, unadulterated fun.  This was a total delight from the first frame to the end of the extra scene at the end of the credits.  I loved it.

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  An outstanding political action thriller.  Think 3 Days of the Condor with super heroes, and you're close, but it's better than that.

3. A Walk Among the Tombstones.  Based on the excellent Matthew Scudder novel by Lawrence Block.  Liam Neeson was born to play Scudder.

4. The Equalizer.  Denzel is outstanding (as always).  I like that the film takes time with the characters before all the violence and mayhem begins.  That way, we care about what happens because we're invested in the people.

5. Snowpiercer.  Okay, the concept of a train running on tracks for years with no maintenance in the snow is a bit silly, but once the movie gets going, you won't be thinking about that.  Chris Evans is amazing in this movie, and the story doesn't flinch.

6. Edge of Tomorrow.  Tom Cruise does a great job in this movie, and it's a flick that even people who hate Tom Cruise can enjoy because he gets killed over and over again.  Fun sf movie, and Emily Blunt shines.

7. X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Yes, I like movies based on Marvel comics properties.  I grew up on Marvel comics, and it's too much fun to see these films on the big screen.  No apologies.  This one had a few plot problems, but I still enjoyed it.

8. Cold in July.  Michael C. Hall leaves Dexter behind in this terrific adaptation of the Joe R. Lansdale thriller.  The book is better, of course, so read it.  Still, the movie is well-done and reasonably faithful to the source material.  Don Johnson and Sam Shepard are both excellent in the film, too.

9. John Wick.  Keanu Reeves plays to his strengths in this film, and while there are a lot of plot problems, the biggest being that the bad guys would have killed Reeves when they hit him with the car.  A couple of bullets in the brain and the movie is over.  So the bad guys have to be stupid for it to play.  Still, the action rocked, and it was entertaining.

10. The Giver.  I'm obviously way behind on my movie watching this year because while The Giver was okay, I'd read the book, and the book was brilliant so I felt a bit let down.  Read the novel by Lois Lowry so you can get the true depth of the story.

There are still plenty of movies coming out, and I haven't seen some of the films I wanted to catch, so the above list will definitely change.


The year 2013 was an odd one.  I didn't get to as many movies as I normally do.  That said, let's roll through the list of my favorites.

1. Iron Man 3.  Robert Downey, Jr. was terrific in this one.  The dialogue was outstanding, as you'd expect from Shane Black.  Some people complained that this was more Tony Stark than Iron Man, but I loved it.  Comic book fans also complained about The Mandarin, but they need to get over themselves.  Ben Kingsley was hysterical.  And Rebecca Hall deserves special mention as she was quite good in this one.

2. About Time.  Admission time.  I love romantic comedies, and I think Richard Curtis is a brilliant writer and director.  Rachel McAdams shines, and Domhnall Gleeson nails his performance.  Bill Nighy is a delight as the father who tells his son he can travel in time.  This is a fun movie that a lot of people missed in its theatrical run, so rent it.  You can thank me later.

3. 12 Years a Slave.  I'm a huge fan of Chiwetel Ejiofor.  He really won me over in Serenity, but secured himself in Redbelt.  In 12 Years a Slave, he gets to really show his acting chops.  As good as he was, Lupita Nyong'o stole every scene she was in and went on to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.  This film also won Best Picture.

4. Dallas Buyers Club.  Matthew McConaughey won the Best Actor Oscar for his role in this one, and he really gets to shine in this role.  This was a very well-done movie.

5. 42.  Chadwick Boseman portrays Jackie Robinson in this excellent movie.  Harrison Ford gets to actually act in this one, too.

6. Now You See Me.  A lot of people thought this was a little too slick with magicians pulling off a heist while on stage, and leading the FBI on a crazy chase.  The third act had issues, but the movie was a lot of fun, and that counts for a lot in my book.

7. Lone Survivor.  Mark Wahlberg stars as a Navy SEAL on a mission with his team to capture or kill a Taliban leader.  The film is based on a true story, and it's intense.  Comedian Bill Maher joked that calling the movie Lone Survivor gives away the ending.  That said, it's hard not to think of the men and women who put themselves in harm's way for their patriotic ideals.  They're true heroes.

8. Chinese Zodiac.  Story-wise, this movie wouldn't make it into the top ten, but it's Jackie Chan in a Hong Kong action flick showing he's still got it in spite of a number of crappy Hollywood movies.  The action and stunts and fun are totally worth it.  Thank you, Jackie.

9. Rush.  Chris Hemsworth is quite good as Formula One racer James Hunt who had an amazing rivalry with another driver, Niki Lauda, played by Daniel Brühl.

10. Gravity.  A number of people complain about the ending, but (SPOILER ALERT) I think Sandra Bullock's character died when she saw George Clooney on the ship, and the rest was a dream as she drew her final breaths.  Science issues aside, this was an intense flick, and Bullock was amazing.

Okay, it looks like 2013 was a year of Based on a True Story movies.

There were other movies I enjoyed in 2013 including Thor: The Dark World, Ender's Game (though the book was better--and I know lots of folks are still pissed at Orson Scott Card for his anti-gay comments, but a lot of people worked hard to bring the movie to life and I saw no reason to boycott the film because of one guy's comments), World War Z, The Internship, The World's End, and a few others.  The movie that I absolutely HATED that year was Man of Steel.  That movie sucked big green donkey dicks.

1 comment:

  1. What a great list of movies, Gary! It looks like you’ve been watching a lot of sci-fi movies, yes? Or maybe there's just a lot of them released last 2013 & 2014. Anyway, I know it’s hard to find some time for movies while working on your manuscript, but I admire you for being a keen observer on those movies you’ve watched. I hope you’ll be able to share more of your favorite movies in your future posts. Have a great day!

    Simon Walker @ The Viewlorium